More Information
ISBN: 9781839732232
Imprint: Langham Academic
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 22
Publication Date: 30/09/2021
Pages: 424
Series: Studies in Homiletics
Language: English

Expository Preaching in a World of Spiritual Nominalism

Exploring the Churches in India’s North East


The spiritual decay of nominalism threatens the established church worldwide. While spiritual lethargy is often addressed from the perspective of theology and discipleship, little attention has been given to the role of homiletics in revitalizing a congregation’s spiritual health.

In this study, Dr. Johnson Raih explores the impact of preaching on members of Baptist churches in Imphal, Manipur, India, from 2000 to 2015. He utilizes interviews and questionnaires from pastors, church leaders, and lay members to assess the presence of nominalism within church congregations, along with the effects of various preaching methods on increasing or decreasing spiritual vitality. Combining this qualitative research with scriptural and theological insight, Raih suggests that expository preaching has the power to confront, and even eradicate, nominalism within the church. He draws on biblical examples, along with the methodology of John Stott and Timothy Keller, to offer ten practical recommendations for countering nominalism homiletically – whether in Imphal, India, or around the world.

Author Bios

R. T. Johnson Raih

R. T. JOHNSON RAIH has a PhD from the South Asian Institute of Advanced Christian Studies, Bangalore, India. A lifelong learner, he also has master’s degrees in English literature, public administration, and education, and his passions include expository preaching and training pastors and preachers. He is the former principal of Manipur Baptist Convention Higher Secondary School in Imphal and currently serves as the senior pastor at Carey Baptist Church, Kolkata, India.


Why is nominalism rampant within the church? Could it be that it has to do with deficient preaching that fails to expound God’s word in a faithful and challenging way to his people? Johnson Raih has set out to explore the connection in relation to the Baptist churches in Imphal, Manipur, in northeast India, an area with a long Christian tradition. Taking care to situate his findings in a wider biblical and contemporary framework concerning preaching, he is, above all, concerned with listening to the voice of the people. They reveal why much preaching fails to produce mature and holy Christians and what can be done about it. If his findings are given the seriousness they deserve, it could revolutionize the quality of Christian living not only in Imphal but well beyond it too.

Derek Tidball, PhD
Adjunct Lecturer and Research Supervisor,
South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies (SAIACS), Bangalore, India
Former Principal, London School of Theology, UK

This is an extensive and elaborate work, perhaps a premier for the region of northeast India. There is elaborate and in-depth research – it is refreshing to go through the analytical discussions on the expository preaching in chapter 6, and in chapter 7, the pragmatic task is very relevant for all. Raih rightly points out that “effective preaching must ultimately lead people to encounter God, and experience him personally in their lives, thus bringing spiritual vitality” (pg. 268). After a thorough examination on the works of some of the Western and Oriental practitioners of homiletics, Raih’s research recommends that “preaching a clear expository and biblical gospel will impact the spiritual lives, ethics, and commitment of the people positively, thus combating nominalism” (pg. 299). This monograph is a must-read for all preachers and is worthy of a space in your library.

Rev. A. K. Lama, DMin, PhD
Former General Secretary,
Council of Baptist Churches in North East India (CBCNEI)

Good preaching packs a punch. Probing the disarray that nominalism has brought to the church in northeast India, Johnson Raih’s fine qualitative research explores the evangelical intuition that systematic expository preaching strengthens the church and combats nominalism. His study confirms better preaching will have impact. Every northeast Indian Christian leader needs to read it.

Ian Payne, PhD
Former Principal,
South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies (SAIACS), Bangalore, India
Executive Director, Theologians Without Borders

This book reveals the long-time experience of Johnson Raih with the Baptist churches in Manipur, their preaching, and its impact on the lives of the congregation. Many people get frustrated when preaching is unrelated and unimpressive. Johnson Raih’s writings in this book are a great guide to effective preaching in times of spiritual lethargic attitude. He fills the gap between the pulpit and the pews through his conclusions. If pastors want to move their congregation from nominalism to spirituality, through an effective method of preaching, this book is the right book to read.

Rev. Prof. Alfred Stephen, DTh
Professor of Homiletics,
Tamilnadu Theological Seminary, India

Table of Contents

  1. Foreword
  2. Acknowledgements
  3. Abstract
  4. Abbreviations
  1. Chapter 1: Introduction
  2. 1.1 Introduction
  3. 1.2 Rationale
    1. 1.2.1 Personal Rationale
    2. 1.2.2 Academic Rationale
  4. 1.3 Statement of Purpose
  5. 1.4 Objectives
  6. 1.5 Significance of the Study
  7. 1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study
  8. 1.7 Statement of the Problem
  9. 1.8 Research Questions
    1. 1.8.1 Primary Research Questions
    2. 1.8.2 Subsidiary Research Questions
  10. 1.9 Definition of Key Terms
  11. 1.10 Structure of the Study
  12. 1.11 Research Design for the Study
  13. 1.12 Selected Strategy of Inquiry
    1. 1.12.1 Qualitative Method: Practical Theology and Social Sciences
  14. 1.13 Philosophical Worldview of Phenomenological Approaches: Social Constructivist Worldview
  15. 1.14 Research Methods
    1. 1.14.1 Method of Data Collection
  16. 1.15 An Analysis of Various Research Models
    1. 1.15.1 Rambo and Leh
    2. 1.15.2 Kevin Gary Smith’s Model
    3. 1.15.3 Richard R. Osmer’s Model
  1. Chapter 2: Literature Review
  2. 2.1 Introduction
  3. 2.2 The Effect of Preaching
    1. 2.2.1 A Theological-Homiletical Survey
    2. 2.2.2 The Situation of Preaching in India’s North East
    3. 2.2.3 Previous Research
  4. 2.3 Nominalism
    1. 2.3.1 Lausanne Movement Discussions
    2. 2.3.2 World Council of Churches (WCC) and Council of Baptist Churches in North East India (CBCNEI)
  5. 2.4 Nominalism and Preaching
    1. 2.4.1 Regional Survey
  6. 2.5 Working Definition of Nominalism
  1. Chapter 3: Christianity in Manipur: Arrival, Growth, and the Early Preaching Movement
  2. 3.1 A General Background of Manipur and Imphal City
  3. 3.2 Religious Background
  4. 3.3. Arrival of Christianity in Manipur
  5. 3.4 The Early Preaching Movements in North East India (CBCNEI)
  6. 3.5 Christian Mission and Preaching in Manipur through the American Mission Society (AMS)
    1. 3.5.1 William Pettigrew’s Mission Work and the Formation on Manipur Baptist Convention (MBC)
    2. 3.5.2 Preaching, Persecution, and Church Growth in Manipur
  7. 3.6 Effect of Christian Preaching in Manipur: The First Half of the Twentieth Century
  8. 3.7 Health of the Baptist Church and Preaching in Manipur: The Second Half of the Twentieth Century
    1. 3.7.1 The Ministry Focus of MBC Leadership in Different Eras of Its History
    2. 3.7.2 Eras of the MBC Leadership: An Analysis from a Homiletical Point of View
    3. 3.7.3 The Role of Preaching for Church Growth: Y. L. Mingthing
    4. 3.7.4 An Analysis of Y. L. Mingthing’s Voice on the Role of Preaching for Church Growth
  9. 3.8 Conclusion
  1. Chapter 4: Description of the Data
  2. 4.1 Introduction
  3. 4.2 Data Coding and Analysis
  4. 4.3 Description of the Data
    1. 4.3.1 Church Member’s Understanding of the Word of God
    2. 4.3.2 Spiritual Vitality
    3. 4.3.3 Nominalism
    4. 4.3.4 Preaching
    5. 4.3.5 Reading of the Scripture Inspired by Preaching
    6. 4.3.6 General Challenges to the Spirituality of the Members in Baptist Churches of Imphal
    7. 4.3.7 Observation of the Data and Connection with the Research Questions
  5. 4.4 Conclusion
  1. Chapter 5: Interpretation of the Data
  2. 5.1 Introduction
  3. 5.2 The Task of Interpretation
  4. 5.3 Theories and Literature Review vis-à-vis the Interpretative Task
  5. 5.4 Interpreting the Impact of Preaching in the Church
    1. 5.4.1 Interpreting the Positive Impact of Good Preaching
    2. 5.4.2 Interpreting the Negative Impact of Bad Preaching
  6. 5.5 Interpreting the Impact of Preaching on Society
  7. 5.6 An Engagement between Research Findings and Literature Review
    1. 5.6.1 The Advantage of Qualitative Approach
    2. 5.6.2 The Effect of Preaching: The Homiletical-Theological Survey
    3. 5.6.3 Preaching and Spiritual Vitality
    4. 5.6.4 Preaching and Nominalism
    5. 5.6.5 Nominalism: Description and Definition
  8. 5.7 Interpreting the Believers’ Poor Understanding of the Word of God
  9. 5.8 Goals and Themes in Preaching
  10. 5.9 Methods of Sermons Preached in the Baptist Churches
  11. 5.10 An Analysis of the Methods of Sermons
  12. 5.11 Conclusion
  1. Chapter 6: Normative Task
  2. 6.1 Introduction
  3. 6.2 Spiritual Lethargy in the Bible and a Homiletical Response
    1. 6.2.1 Spiritual Lethargy in the Old Testament: Malachi
    2. 6.2.2 Malachi’s Homiletical Response
    3. 6.2.3 Spiritual Lethargy in the New Testament: 1 Corinthians
  4. 6.3 The Role of Charisma in Topical and Expository Preaching: An Evaluation
  5. 6.4 The Theology and Method of Expository Preaching
    1. 6.4.1 John Stott
    2. 6.4.2 Timothy Keller
  6. 6.5 Critique against Expository Preaching
    1. 6.5.1 Critique against Expository Preaching by the Proponents of New Homiletic (NH)
    2. 6.5.2 Critique against Expository Preaching by Some Evangelicals
    3. 6.5.3 Challenges of Expository Preaching in Terms of Its Homiletical Method in Comparison to Topical Preaching Method
  7. 6.6 Rebuttal against the Criticisms of the New Homiletic on Expository Preaching
  8. 6.7 Evaluation of Stott and Keller and a Response to the Critique against Expository Preaching
  9. 6.8 Recommendation of Expository Preaching for the Baptist Churches of Imphal
  10. 6.9 Conclusion
  1. Chapter 7: Pragmatic Task
  2. 7.1 Introduction
  3. 7.2 Discussions and Recommendations to Revitalise the Preaching Ministry in Order to Combat Nominalism
    1. 7.2.1 Love the Word of God
    2. 7.2.2 Preach the Biblical Gospel Faithfully
    3. 7.2.3 Preach as a Shepherd with Love to God’s People
    4. 7.2.4 Pastors Should Be Humble, Prayerful, and Preach in the Power of the Holy Spirit, because They Hold the Key
    5. 7.2.5 Pastors Should Preach to the Believers’ Context
    6. 7.2.6 Pastors Should Put Personal Integrity above Their Sermon
    7. 7.2.7 The Church Should Provide Formal and Non-Formal Preaching Training for the Pastors
    8. 7.2.8 Pastors Must Extend Their Preaching Ministry Beyond the Pulpit
    9. 7.2.9 Deacons Must Play a Pro-Active Role in the Pastor’s Preaching Ministry
  4. 7.3 Conclusion
  1. Chapter 8: Conclusion
  2. 8.1 Introduction
  3. 8.2 Summary
  4. 8.3 A Critical Self-Evaluation and Critique
    1. 8.3.1 Weaknesses
    2. 8.3.2 Strengths
  5. 8.4 Contribution to the Field of Practical Theology
    1. 8.4.1 Baptist Churches in Imphal
    2. 8.4.2 Practical Theology
  6. 8.5 Further Recommendations for Future Research
  7. 8.6 Summary and Conclusion
  1. Appendix 1: The Spectrum of Preaching
  2. Appendix 2: Open-Ended Research Questionnaire
  3. Appendix 3: Some Other Ways to Address Nominalism
  4. Appendix 4: List of Some Theologically Trained MBC Leaders
  5. Appendix 5: Political Map of Manipur in the Context of Global Map
  6. Appendix 6: A Political Map of India
  7. Appendix 7: Manipur Map
  8. Appendix 8: Imphal Map
  9. Appendix 9: Semi-Structured Interview Questions
  10. Appendix 10: Pilot Survey Questionnaire
  11. Appendix 11: Pilot Survey Interview Questions
  12. Appendix 12: General Challenges to the Spirituality of the Members
  1. Bibliography